Suter no stranger to expectations

Former Wisconsin defenseman ready for pro career; will wade out lockout in Milwaukee

When you grow up the son of a hockey legend, not to mention the nephew of two other former Wisconsin hockey players, one a long-time NHL star, expectations come with the territory. Ryan Suter has long taken them in stride.

Suter's father, Bob, played for the Miracle on Ice 1980 Olympic team. Gary Suter spent two seasons at UW and 17 in the NHL, with more than 900 career points. John Suter played at Wisconsin from 1973-78 and, along with Bob, was part of the Badgers' 1977 National Championship team.

"I like living up to expectations," Ryan Suter said at a press conference at the Kohl Center in Madison last week. "I've felt like I've had to do that throughout my career. I kind of like playing up with older guys and trying to be the go-to guy."

Suter has often been the go-to guy. His pre-professional hockey career is about as decorated as they come. As a sophomore at the Culver Academy (Carmel, Ind.) he notched 13 goals, 32 assists and was named the top defenseman at the U-16 Four Nations Tournament.

He spent his junior and senior years of high school playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, winning goal medals with both the U-17 team at the World Challenge and the U-18 squad in the World Championships. He had 70 points in 121 games over his two seasons with NTDP.

He won gold again last winter as a member of the U.S. National Junior Team, which won the World Junior Championship for the first time in history.

Suter also helped lead the Badgers' rebirth last season. He had three goals, 16 assists and plus-19 rating in Wisconsin's run to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Suter said he came close to playing up to his expectations last year.

"In some ways. I would have liked to have been more offensive, that's for sure," he said. "But as far as defensively and as a team went I thought I did."

The next challenge, after signing a three-year contract with the Nashville Predators last week, however, is to prepare for his first professional season.

The NHL announced Wednesday afternoon that, as expected, a lockout will commence as soon as the collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight Wednesday. The Predators had previously announced that Suter would begin his professional career with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. During the lockout, Nashville's NHL coaches are expected to also spend their time with their affiliate in Milwaukee, working with the players on hand, including other recent signees such as defenseman Kevin Klein.

"Suter and Klein will get to play 80-plus games with Milwaukee," Nashville assistant general manager Ray Shero told The Nashville City Paper. "That is going to really help their development."

Suter said he will play in Milwaukee as long as necessary.

"If the season started, say, halfway through, they would assess the situation and then go from that," he said.

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